Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore honored with Rust College honorary doctorate

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Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore (right) received honorary doctorate from Rust College Interim President Dr. Robert Dixon.

JANS – In a momentous celebration on May 4, 2024, Rust College bestowed one of its highest honors upon Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore, a distinguished member of the Walls, Miss. Board of Aldermen and a revered DeSoto County native. McLemore, a retired professor, former dean, and former interim president of Jackson State University, received an honorary doctorate during the commencement ceremonies, marking a pinnacle of recognition for his lifelong dedication to civil rights and education.

McLemore’s journey, deeply rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, began at Rust College where he made history as the first president of the college’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1962, and became one of the first African Americans to register to vote in DeSoto County. 

Rust College President Dr. Robert Dixon praised McLemore’s enduring impact, stating, “Since those early days at Rust College when you accepted the leadership mantle for the NAACP and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, you have been our North Star. You have brought honor and class to every endeavor that you have pursued.”

Expressing his gratitude and reflecting on the transformative power of education, McLemore shared, “Rust College changed my life in more ways than I can articulate. It opened up a whole new world, a world that I did not know existed. Rust provided the platform for everything I have done in life. Any success that I have had, I owe it to the professors and administrators at my beloved Rust College.” His words resonated with the audience, encapsulating a journey of resilience, leadership, and profound contribution to society.

McLemore’s legacy of leadership and service extends far beyond his academic achievements. From his early days as a class president at Hernando Central High School to his significant roles on the Jackson City Council and as interim Mayor, McLemore has exemplified a commitment to community and progress. As the sole recipient of this year’s honorary doctorate at Rust College, his story is a beacon of hope and inspiration, highlighting the enduring impact of education and civic engagement.

The commencement ceremony was extra special as it marked 60 years since McLemore and his class graduated from Rust College.

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Dr. Leslie-Burl McLemore honored with Rust College honorary doctorate

By Jackson Advocate News Service
June 10, 2024